Reiki, a type of energy work utilized by many massage therapists, shows promise as a means of mitigating stress, according to new research.

British researchers set out to see whether participants – university students – who received reiki would show greater health and well-being benefits than a group who received no reiki, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov.

Participants experienced 10, 20-minute intervention sessions over a period of two-and-a-half to 12 weeks. Reiki was directed by the experimenter who sat behind the participants as they were absorbed in the tasks. Self-report measures of illness symptoms, mood and sleep were assessed pre-post-intervention, as was salivary cortisol.

While the reiki group had a tendency toward a reduction in illness symptoms, a substantive increase in symptoms was seen in the no-reiki group. The reiki group also had a near-significant comparative reduction in stress, although they also had significantly higher baseline illness symptoms and stress scores.

A method of blinding participants to reiki was also tested, where non-contact reiki or no-reiki with random assignment was given to 35 healthy psychology undergraduates whose attention was absorbed in one of three tasks involving self-hypnosis or relaxation.

The reiki blinding was successful—the groups did not differ statistically in their beliefs regarding group membership.

“The results are suggestive that the reiki buffered the substantive decline in health in the course of the academic year seen in the no-reiki group,” the researchers said.

The results of “A randomised controlled single-blind trial of the effects of Reiki and positive imagery on well-being and salivary cortisol” were published recently in the journal Brain Research Bulletin.

 

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